Art Industry News: A Hapless Janitor Accidentally Erased Banksy’s Latest Artwork on the London Tube + Other Stories

Plus, the V&A plans to reopen on August 6 in London and there's a battle brewing over royal art storage.

Still from video, 2020. Courtesy of Banksy.

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 15.


There’s a Royal Battle Over Art Storage – A 23,000-square-foot art-storage facility will be built just a few hundred yards away from Frogmore Cottage, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s UK home near Windsor Castle. The warehouse, which will house art objects from the Royal collection, is expected to proceed despite pushback from the preservation committee Historic England, which opposes the construction of a modern structure on the historic ground near the Royal garden. (Vanity Fair)

How Kabul’s Artists Adorn Its Blast Walls – A collective of artists called the Artlords (a play on words with warlords and drug lords) has been adorning the Afghan capital with paintings that reflect on local and international politics. The goal of the group, which has made almost 2,000 murals since 2014 ranging from depictions of George Floyd to Afghan politicians, is to promote social justice and peace in a war-torn nation. (Guardian)

A Cleaner Accidentally Removed Banksy’s Latest Artwork – The graffiti artwork Banksy created on the London Tube depicting rats, including one wearing a face mask, was accidentally removed by a cleaner just a day after the artist shared a video of the work on Instagram. Since the Tube has a strict no graffiti policy, cleaners “had noticed some sort of ‘rat thing’ a few days ago and cleaned it off, as they should,” a source said. A spokesperson for the transport authority said that they would like “to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location.” (Evening Standard)

French Company Rescues Heritage Sites to Mount Immersive Light Show – The canvas-free immersive light shows organized by the private museum management firm Culturespaces has become a blooming business. So far, the French-owned company has done light shows on Marc Chagall, Yves Klein, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh, often taking old sites like wartime bunkers or defunct factories and sprucing them up before washing them with pixelated art. The margins are high, since the group does not have to manage the shipping or display of precious artworks. The company plans to create shows in Dubai, New York City, and Chicago. (New York Times)


Major Matisse and Miró Come to Sotheby’s – The house has announced the stars of its cross-category July 28 evening sale in London. A 1942 Matisse, Danseuse assise dans un fauteuil, is expected to go for £8 million to £12 million ($10–12 million). It was last publicly exhibited in 1949 and has been in private hands for five decades. Another work by Joan Miró, Femme au chapeau rouge (1927), carries an estimate of £20 million to £30 million ($25–39 million). (Art Market Monitor)

Pace Represents Merrill Wagner – The New York-based abstract artist known for her painted wall reliefs that reference Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism has joined Pace Gallery. (Press release)


Museums Reopen in Western Massachusetts – Museums in Western Massachusetts are experimenting with reopening, banking on the size of the institutions to protect public health. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art reopened on July 12 and received around 1,000 visitors over the weekend. The nearby Clark Art Institute has also begun to welcome visitors again, capping attendance at 25 percent capacity. (The Art Newspaper)

The V&A Announces Reopening and Anti-Racist Task Force – The Victoria & Albert Museum in London will reopen beginning August 6 in phases, with safety measures in place. The museum has also responded to the Black Lives Matter movement by establishing an anti-racism task force to examine its own practices and voice as a museum born out of the UK’s colonial history. (Press release)


How Australia’s Arts Stimulus Stacks Up – Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison has announced an A$250 million ($175 million) bailout package for the country’s arts and culture sector. The rescue pot pales in comparison to the UK’s (long-awaited) $1.9 billion industry bailout and is five times smaller than New Zealand’s federal arts rescue package, but it beat out the $75 million the United States gave to the National Endowment for the Arts. (Guardian)

South Korea Stages Drone Light Show – South Korea’s ministry of land, infrastructure, and transport organized a luminous drone performance over Seoul’s Han River. The 11-minute show was designed to honor healthcare workers and give hope to citizens, much like a similar drone performance organized in Rotterdam by the art duo Studio Drift earlier this year. (designboom)

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